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Judge Takes One of Trump’s Lawyers, Todd Blanche, To Task

When Todd Blanche, Donald Trump’s pugnacious defense attorney, arrived in state court on Monday morning, he was smiling and seemingly confident.

When he left a little over an hour later, that smile was gone.

During the first hour of a hearing on a possible delay or even a dismissal of the criminal trial facing his client, Mr. Blanche faced withering questioning from the trial’s judge.

Mr. Blanche experienced the type of morning that lawyers dread, as Justice Juan M. Merchan seemed simultaneously dismissive of his legal claims and suspicious of his motives. At one point, the judge wondered aloud why an experienced litigator — and former federal prosecutor — had waited to inform the court about a cache of documents it was seeking, and was now asking for a monthslong delay to process them.

Justice Merchan had a generally cool demeanor at the hearing’s outset. But he became animated when saying that the defense had accused the Manhattan district attorney’s office of “incredibly serious, unbelievably serious” misconduct in claiming that it had attempted to conceal the records. Mr. Blanche, he added, had offered little supporting evidence.

Mr. Blanche, struggling to explain his arguments, did so not only under the eyes of dozens of reporters attending the hearing, but also his famously mercurial client, Mr. Trump, who sat several seats to his left and wore a scowl.

Still, Mr. Blanche tried to press his case, saying that he needed time to go through “tens of thousands” of documents recently turned over by federal prosecutors who had investigated Mr. Trump’s former fixer, Michael Cohen, who is expected to be a critical witness in the eventual trial.

“We’re not doing our jobs if we don’t independently look at the new material,” he said.

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